Planning permission: What can you build without it?

Seeking planning permission to build or substantially change a home can be a long, detailed and taxing proposition. However, there is a lot you can do to change or expand your living space without going through all the hassle of seeking planning permission.

You can check the planning permission regulations for England here. Please note that there are slightly different systems in place for Scotland and Northern Ireland, and for business properties in Wales, so make sure you are checking the right set of regulations!

Here, we’ll take a look at the general requirements for extensions to your home without seeking planning permission.

Building Extensions Without Planning Permission

An addition or expansion is considered to be a ‘permitted development’, unless it exceeds any of the following limits. That means that you would not have to seek planning permission to build it.

These limits apply only to standard detached, semi-detached and attached homes. Maisonettes and flats have a different set of limits.

The following limits also apply to conservatories.

  • The extension must be of a similar external appearance and material to the existing home.
  • For detached homes, a single storey extension cannot stretch more than 4 metres beyond the original outside wall.
  • For attached homes, the limit for a single story extension is shorter – 3 metres.
  • The home as extended must take up no more than half the ‘curtilage’ (the open land around the home) as it was when it was built, or as it stood in 1948 if that is later.
  • The extension cannot be forward of either the principle elevation nor of the side elevation leading onto a drive.
  • A single storey extension can be no wider than half the width of the house.
  • A single storey extension can be no taller than 4 metres.
  • The extension cannot be taller than the tallest part of the home’s roof.
  • Double storey extensions must remain 7 or more metres from the rear boundary of the property.
  • If there are upper floor windows facing the side, they must be obscure-glazed at begin at least 1.7 metres above the floor.
  • The extension cannot have a balcony, veranda or raised platform of any kind.

However, remember to check with your local planning authority before building anything in your garden or adding on to your home. This article looks at UK standards overall, and your local council or authority might differ. Listed properties and those in conservation areas have much more strict limits, and planning permission should be sought for any substantial change. 

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